Hope and Deliverance

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December 16, 2012 Huffington Post

parents

‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’: A Mom’s Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America

Posted: 12/16/2012 9:15 am EST  |  Updated: 12/16/2012 2:34 pm EST

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Written by Liza Long, republished from The Blue Review

Friday’s horrific national tragedy — the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family’s story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza’s story, tales like this one need to be heard — and families who live them deserve our help.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan — they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.
“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.
The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork — “Were there any difficulties with… at what age did your child… were there any problems with.. has your child ever experienced.. does your child have…”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying — that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise — in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill — Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

(Originally published at The Anarchist Soccer Mom.)

 I am Adam Lanza’s mother

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I have a dear friend, who has a God-given gift of expressing His truths with the clarity of a ringing bell.  Sherri has given me permission to use her thoughts about this article:

I admit that I’m in a very reflective mood this afternoon. If you choose to read the article above, I have some thoughts to the last line. The mother admits she needs God’s help. How does God help today?

He either helps directly apart from us for His sovereign purposes, or He works through you and me. Generally, I believe He desires to work through you and me.
 
As I read this article I couldn’t help but think about the much needed deliverance in all of these young men. How we need to be available…and how needy is our society to SEE the power of God and NOT just the power of Satan. Without seeing the power of God, it leaves them with only the power of self-determination to survive (unless they know Christ personally).  I wonder what would happen if someone had offered to pray for deliverance if there might not have been a different ending in these cases…maybe not. People must be willing to receive help, but it seems like this is a mother who was ASKING for help from the only source she thought was available. Is this not an indictment against Christianity…form without power? 
 
God help us to be full of compassionate…and may Your restorative power be revealed in this ever-increasing darkness for YOUR glory and fame. Sherri D.
On this week before Christmas, as the internet and the world are filled with anguish and confusion over the tragic loss of life in Connecticut, I present another change that Jesus offers to us all. While He offers this change for us, it is not a change for Him. When He walked this earth as man, everyone who came to Him for help received it. He never turned anyone away and no illness, mental or physical, was ever too difficult for Him to heal. He gave hope and He gave deliverance from the demons that plague minds and bodies. He still offers this hope and deliverance today. However, we have to believe He is still able and still willing. When asked by a needy man, Jesus expressed His heart….I am willing. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The first step to receive this deliverance is  faith in what He gave us through the work of  His cross, trusting in the power of His Name and in His Blood.
I continue to learn more about healing, and can honestly say, I don’t understand how this manifests on a consistent basis. But I do know it is wise to seek Him in the midst of troubles, tragedies and trials. It is worth it.
Luke 4:18  New King James Version
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
Connecting, with love
Donna
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Altogether Lovely

The greatest change that Jesus brought to this world is the presence of  Himself, and what He offers to every man, woman and child.  Only through His Holy Spirit are we able to comprehend just how lovely, how beautiful He is. The  magnitude of His glory and loveliness is expressed through His revealed names found in scripture. I want to share a few of His marvelous names. The quotes are from a devotional entitled The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord by Charles E. Hurlburt and T.C. Horton, a classic that has been in print for nearly a century.

I recently visited a glass blower’s shop and was fascinated by the lovely glass work. I’m including photos of the glass art in this post. As the glass blower demonstrated his work, I saw an analogy to the beauty that can come from us through the beauty of Jesus within us, as we walk in the power of His names.

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Altogether Lovely

His mouth is most sweet: yea He is altogether lovely. Song of Solomon 5:16

Every earthly joy will pall,

Every earthly friend will fall.

Only Christ is to the end

“Altogether Lovely,” Friend.

Do you see His wondrous face?

Full of glory, love and grace?

Look, and all thy need confess,

Worship His pure Holiness.

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The Brightness of His Glory

Who being the brightness of His Glory  Hebrews 1:3

Do you want to visualize the glory of God? Then gaze upon Jesus Christ. When we see Him, we see God, for He is God. Oh, the marvel of the Godhead! …

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A Sweet-Smelling Savor

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself…for a sweet-smelling savor. Ephesians 5:2

When Christ laid down His life on the cross what a perfume went up to God – the perfume from the sacrifice of His Son! Has the perfume of the cross yet reached you? It reached heaven. Has the love of God, as manifested in the sacrifice of His Son, mastered you? Our Father, forgive us that we have been so unmindful of the wonders of Thy love. May its perfume pervade our lives, and through us, the lives of others. Amen.

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The Unspeakable Gift

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15 (ASV)

…There was no treasure which God could give comparable to the gift of His Son, and “Having given us His Son, will He not with Him freely give us all things?”  How could it be possible that the Father would give to sinners the Son of His Love?  How we ought to love Him! Is there anything we have or are that we would withhold from Him? Loving Lord, help us to sense in a new way what it means for us to possess Thee, the unspeakable Gift. Amen,

May Jesus, and all that His names represent about Him, be fresh in our hearts for the days ahead. I hope and pray you and your family are blessed this Christmas season with awe for the beauty of Jesus.

Connecting, with love

Donna

Balance and beauty

On June 15, 2012, Nik Wallenda became the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a high wire. He walked over the massive cascade of water from the United States to the Canadian side.

Step by step he moved above the falls, while beneath him, nearly 5.7 million liters of water rushed powerfully over a 200 foot drop each second. He took a little under 30 minutes to traverse the 1800 foot distance over the falls. Wind and mist pounded him from all sides.  Even though he was required to wear a safety tether, he didn’t have to use it…

…because while accomplishing this feat, he relied heavily on the balancing pole he carried, which was harnessed around his shoulders.

 During this Christmas season, I was led to explore fresh insights about Jesus and the changes His life produced. While meditating before the Lord, I suddenly started thinking about Nik Wallenda’s walk across Niagara.  I waited to see if it was a passing thought generated by my random mind, a distraction, or the Lord showing me something. I realized quickly the Holy Spirit was giving me a visual lesson about one of the changes Jesus has provided to believers, who are willing to accept it. Jesus didn’t just come to live among us, He came bringing changes that bless our lives. The larger concepts of salvation, justification, redemption and deliverance are all changes for our blessing, but I want to focus on a change I call balance.

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The Niagara Falls of life are always potentially ahead, for each of us. We walk through our days with countless decisions to make… what, when where, or who. Our overall well-being (which includes relationships, health, finances, maturity,  safety, stability, comfort, security, happiness) lies before us like a tight rope. If we lose the balance, we tumble off that tight rope of harmony and peace, and into the turmoil. One careless move can cause pain and suffering within a blink of eye; one misguided decision can send us into debt or destroy a relationship. Some have developed skills to keep up the balance of life themselves. With much concentration, they take one step at a time on that high wire, using the balancing poles of education, common sense, fame, wealth, resourcefulness, creativity, or just plain bull-dog tenacity, all of which can be valuable in varying degrees. 

Seemingly, this skilled high wire act appears to do well, until eventually a gust of life’s winds or the fog of life’s mist attack their balance. During these pressing conditions, it becomes obvious the balancing pole being used is not enough for the completion of this journey over tumultuous falls. Education will eventually reach a peak. Common sense will get tripped up by inexperience. Fame and wealth fade away. Resourcefulness and creativity hit blank walls and discouragement, and that bull-dog tenacity becomes weary and unfocused.

When Jesus came to fulfill God’s love for humanity, God gave us the greatest gift, Himself. Jesus made a way, through His Spirit within us, for us to access His unlimited abilities, and we gain a supernatural balancing pole. We have every skill needed to live balanced lives, through His power working in us, to walk over the turmoil and even to experience the beauty of life despite the troubles. I imagine Nik Wallenda had an amazing view of the beauty of Niagara.  God’s work is always beautiful, whether it is His creative work, like the physical beauty Niagara Falls, or through His creative work within us spiritually.

Matthew 1:21 Amplified Bible (AMP)

21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God].

Nik Wallenda did not start across Niagara without a balancing pole and then suddenly realize he needed it. That is why he didn’t have to use the safety tether to prevent him from falling. He assessed his inability to walk that high wire without the pole before he ever stepped on it, and he totally relied on the balancing pole the entire way. Consistent peace in life comes when we prepare our hearts to realize our need for Jesus, and our willingness to depend on, and receive the blessing of balance through Him.  It isn’t about waiting until all our resources are proven inadequate, it is starting the walk across life’s traps and pitfalls, knowing it can only be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified Bible (AMP)

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

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Many of us have experienced a tumble off life’s high wire. I know I’ve gotten wet many times, as I dangled above life threatening waters, saved by His grace alone. Had it not been for the safety tether of God’s saving, sustaining grace, I would have fallen completely into the turmoil, never to have recovered. But, praise God  He loves us and watches over us in such a way that He is able to rescue us from the foolishness of not relying on Jesus to balance our lives.

Galatians 5:25 Amplified Bible (AMP)

25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]

My heart yearns to live a life patterned after Nik Wallenda’s balancing ability, entrusting my life to the balance provided by Jesus, not needing to be rescued from the waters of despair, because He helps me walk over them.

John 16:33 Amplified Bible (AMP)

33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Connecting, with love

Donna

A Baby’s cry changes everything


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On Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Christmas album is a song entitled How Suddenly a Baby Cries. The lyrics of the first line are “How suddenly a baby cries and all forever changed”. This phrase caused me to consider how Jesus Christ has indeed changed everything.

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Concentrating on what Jesus has done, the basic concept for this post began to formulate. By basic I mean, a thought here, a belief there, random thoughts, not connected together. Every time I set out to write a post, those random thoughts are the first to appear in the draft. Even though I am new to blogging, I learned very quickly to appreciate the delete key when what I have written does not adequately express what I know or what I believe. I also use the delete key when my writing stumbles upon my lack of knowledge on a subject. As I try developing a thought, I realize I’m not able to adequately describe it just yet. I then have to consult with my Editor, the Holy Spirit, Who instructs me more thoroughly or leads me to another blog subject. If I sense there isn’t a confident flow with a certain draft, I will put it aside until a later date.

I have discovered that writing is a wonderful discipline and I welcome the challenge because it causes me to look at what I know, and discover what I don’t know. Yes, it is easy to readily agree that the birth of Jesus forever changed our world. It is something else to express that concept in a manner that reveals  I own that truth. Restating truths gathered from others is not ownership. I own a revelation or truth when the Holy Spirit reveals it to me, and I then accept it by faith and seek to live it out. Once that truth belongs to me, I can express it with certainty and confidence. It holds steadfast in the light of God’s Word, as the Holy Spirit continues to work it out within me.

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In admitting this, I broach this subject with caution. I want to devote December’s posts to some simple, but significant ways Jesus has changed things, things we don’t normally consider at Christmas.  I will not attempt to examine those bigger, more profound changes attributed to Jesus. This will be a process to clarify some simple truths for me. Hopefully others will appreciate the process as well.

Baby, Lamb, and Lion, Jesus has touched every aspect of our lives in this world. Regardless that those who deny Him would negate His impact, this truth will one day be fully revealed and totally validated by the Lord Himself. Until then we have opportunities to be blessed by the changes Jesus provided, if we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to welcome those changes into our lives.

This is the link to How Suddenly a Baby Cries by Keith and Kristyn Getty

Connecting, with love

Donna

I’m thankful…

…for God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit…for the cross and all that Jesus made available through that cross to those willing to receive it

…for grandchildren and sunny days at the beach

…for sunrises, even when the red sky foretells of coming storms…because my hope is based on Jesus Christ and nothing less

..for peaceful sunsets at the end of blessed days

..for spring days abounding with flowers in all their varied colors, sizes and aromas

…summer green all over

..for fall days and nights and brightly painted mountains

…winter beauty with mountains dressed in snow

..for the Body of Christ…brothers and sister, near and far…related to each other by the Holy Spirit…joined in worship, praise, prayer, service, ministry and fellowship…knitted together in love

…did I mention grandchildren…and a husband, a daughter, a son, and their spouses…a mother, a father, a sister, a brother and their spouses…aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and grandparents, long gone, but still close to my heart

…for all the joys of nature

…mountain streams

…for rain

…lakes, rivers, and creeks

…gardens, orchards, farms….provision of food

So many more people and things to be grateful for…friends…new and old, homes, comfort, love and acceptance…safety, good health and strength…helpers, servers, supporters and mentors…provision and jobs…laughter, fun and adventure…seasons, climates, holidays, celebrations… people of all nations…visitors, guest, neighbors and strangers…memories, and anticipation of the future…painful lessons learned… fears overcome…tears shed with loved ones…

How do I wrap this up?  During this week before Thanksgiving, as I become still to consider, the good in life is without measure. Even the bad is made right by God’s grace and loving kindness. To abide in Christ is a win-win. He causes us to walk in His favor and He cause what would be considered painful or wrong to be made favorable for our good.  So, I praise you Lord with all my heart! I thank you for each and every day You have given me, and for whatever lies ahead.

Isaiah 30:18 Amplified Bible (AMP)

18 And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!

Connecting, with love

Donna